Musician's health

 

Protecting Your Hearing, Vocal and Neuromusculoskeletal Health

Student Information Sheet

Data prepared by:

National Association of Schools of Music (NASM)

Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA)

 

This document is not copyrighted. It may be reproduced in whole or in part in the interest of education and institutional development. Some of the material continues to be under review by the Membership of NASM and PAMA – it is vitally important that students are made aware of the issues contained herein and are knowledgeable about continuing research in the field.


WBU GENERAL STATEMENT on Musicians’ Health

The School of Music at Wayland Baptist Universityemphasizesmusicians' health asessentialtothe lifelong successof its graduates. In working toward a degree in music,students atWBUare joininga profession with a long and honored history. Part of the responsibility of any musician is to remain in optimal physicalcondition to practice the profession with competencewell into the future. Hearing, vocal, and neuromusculoskeletal health basics should be understood by all music professionals regardless of specific performance disciplines. As such, students in the School of Musicare taught thefundamental health risksfaced by all musicianswhile more closely examiningthehealth issues specifically related totheir specializations.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

  • Hearing health is essential to your lifelong success as a musician.

  • Your hearing can be permanently damaged by loud sounds, including music. Technically, this is called Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). Such danger is constant.

  • Noise-induced hearing loss is generally preventable. You must avoid overexposure to loud sounds, especially for long periods of time.

  • The closer you are to the source of a loud sound, the greater the risk of damage to your hearing mechanisms.

  • Sounds over 85 dB (your typical vacuum cleaner) in intensity pose the greatest risk to your hearing.

  • Risk of hearing loss is based on a combination of sound or loudness intensity and duration.

  • Recommended maximum daily exposure times (NIOSH – National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) to sounds at or above 85 dB are as follows:
  • 85 dB (vacuum cleaner, MP3 player at 1/3 volume) – 8 hours   
  • 90 dB (blender, hair dryer) – 2 hours 
  • 94 dB (MP3 player at ½ volume) – 1 hour    
  • 100 dB (MP3 player at full volume, lawnmower) – 15 minutes    
  • 110 dB (rock concert, power tools) – 2 minutes    

  • 120 dB (jet planes at take-off) – without ear protection, sound damage is almost immediate 

  • Certain behaviors (controlling volume levels in practice and rehearsal, avoiding noisy environments, turning down the volume) reduce your risk of hearing loss. Be mindful of those MP3 earbuds. See chart above.

  • The use of earplugs and earmuffs helps to protect your hearing loss.

Vocal Health       

  • Vocal health is important for all musicians and essential to lifelong success for singers.

  • Understanding basic care of the voice is essential for musicians who speak, sing, and rehearse or teach others.

  • Practicing, rehearsing, and performing music is physically demanding.

  • Musicians are susceptible to numerous vocal disorders.

  • Many vocal disorders and conditions are preventable and/or treatable.

  • Sufficient warm-up time is important.

  • Begin warming up mid-range, and then slowly work outward to vocal pitch extremes.

  • Good posture, adequate breath support, and correct physical technique are essential.

  • Regular breaks during practice and rehearsals are necessary in order to prevent undue physical or vocal stress and strain.

  • It is important to set a reasonable limit on the amount of time you will practice in a day.

  • Avoid sudden increases in practice times.

  • Know your voice and its limits, and avoid overdoing it or misusing it.

  • Maintain healthy habits. Safeguard your physical and mental health – eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep.

  • Drink plenty of water in order to keep your vocal folds adequately lubricated. Limit your use of alcohol, and avoid smoking.

  • When taking medication (prescription or over-the-counter) make sure you are aware if the medications negatively affect your vocal folds and take precautions accordingly.

Protecting Your Neuromusculoskeletal Health 

  • Neuromusculoskeletal health is essential to your lifelong success as a musician.

  • Practicing and performing music is physically demanding.

  • Musicians are susceptible to numerous neuromusculoskeletal disorders.

  • Some musculoskeletal disorders are related to behaviors; others are general and still others are the result of trauma or injury.

  • Many neuromusculoskeletal disorders and conditions are preventable and/or treatable.

  • Sufficient physical and musical warm-up time is important. 

  • Good posture and correct physical technique are essential.     

  • Regular breaks during practice and rehearsals are vital in order to prevent undue physical stress and strain.               

  • It is important to set a reasonable limit of the amount of time that you will practice in a day.

  • Avoid sudden increases in practice time.

  • Know your body and its limits and avoid “overdoing it.”

  • Maintain healthy habits. Safeguard your physical and mental health– eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep.   

SUMMARY

  • Day-to-day decisions can impact your hearing, vocal and neuromusculoskeletal health, both now and in the future. Since injury may occur in and out of school, you also need to learn more and take care of your own health on a daily, even hourly basis.

  • It is important to follow basic health guidelines.

  • It is also important to study the issues and learn more.

  • If you are concerned about your personal health, talk with a medical professional.

  • If you are concerned about your health in relationship to your program of study, consult the appropriate contact person at your institution.

  • This information is provided by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA). For more information, check out the other NASM-PAMA health documents, located on the NASM Web site at www.arts-accredit.org 

NASM/PAMA: November 2011, July 2013 DRAFT

Additional resources:

http://www.musiciansway.com/wellness.shtml

http://www.musicianshealth.com/

http://www.musicandhealth.co.uk/health.html

http://mymusictalk.com/health/

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Another website with valuable hearing health information is

 

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Etymotic website: http://www.etymotic.com/

Etymotic publications: http://www.etymotic.com/publications/

This website also has a link to a personal hearing assessment tool.